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Improving Performances of Beef Cattle with Silvafeed® ByPro

Published on: 11/7/2017
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A sustainable alternative solution to Monensin in Beef Cattle production

For decades, cattle industry has relied extensively on the use of ionophores to increase animal growth and improve feed efficiency, with the only exception of Europe after the 2006 ban on antibiotics use as growth promoters. Ionophores (e.g. monensin and lasalocid) are a class of antibiotics also widely used as coccidiostats in ruminant and poultry production. Their growth-promoting effect results from the selective inhibition of rumen microorganisms, causing several changes in rumen fermentation such as decrease in proteolysis and acetate:propionate ratio. However, the high toxicity of ionophores is a perennial concern for non-targeted species such as horses and humans (Blain et al, 2017), for cattle when feed-mixing errors occur (Puschner et al, 2016), but also for the environment with the residues of these compounds (Hansen et al, 2009).

Silvafeed® ByPro is a natural feed additive intended to improve the nutrition and welfare of ruminants, inducing better animal performances and more sustainable livestock farming. It is composed of selected plant based extracts, rich in tannins, that can display a wide range of biological activities. The increase of bypass proteins is a characteristic effect of Silvafeed® associated with improved animal productivity, where tannins act by reducing the solubility of feed proteins or by selectively inhibiting proteolytic bacteria in the rumen. Yet, the dietary inclusion of Silvafeed® tannins can also modulate the rumen microbiota at different levels, as it has been previously reported (firmicutes:bacteroidetes ratio, ureolytic bacteria, methanogens, etc.). These effects greatly contribute to the overall optimisation of rumen fermentation and partly explain the potential improvements in energy utilisation, rumen pH, and the reductions in ammonia and methane production. In addition, Silvafeed® tannins can be very helpful to prevent bloat on legume pasture, and possess beneficial antioxidant (Liu et al, 2013) and antispasmodic (Budriesi et al, 2010) properties.

The aim of the below reported trial was to compare the growth performances of heifers supplemented with Silvafeed® ByPro, monensin, or the combination of both.

Three hundred and forty eightAngus heifers were individually weighed at the start of the experiment. They were blocked by weight and allocated to twelve dirt-floor pens with 29 animals each. The pens within a block were randomly assigned to three different diets for 80 days:

1) Monensin group: basal diet (14.1% of crude protein and 1.75 Mcal net energy for maintenance/kg of dry matter - DM) + 40 mg of monensin/kg of DM.
2) Silvafeed® ByPro group: basal diet + 3 g of Silvafeed® ByPro/kg of DM.
3) Combination group: basal diet + 3 g of Silvafeed® ByPro + 40 mg of monensin/kg of DM.

Data were analysed by ANOVA as a mixed model, for a randomised complete block design. The model included random effect of block and fixed effects of treatments, with pens as statistical unit. The possible influence of initial weight was explored by covariance analyses.

Figure 1. Influence of monensin and Silvafeed® ByPro supplementation on performance of heifers.

Overall, dry matter intake did not differ significantly between the groups (Figure 1). However, it can be observed that heifers fed with Silvafeed® ByPro had final weights significantly higher (+3%) compare with heifers from monensin group. Moreover, feed efficiency was enhanced in ByPro group with significantly lower feed conversion ratio (FCR) compared with monensin group, which also reflects the appreciable effects of ByPro on dietary Net energy.

Furthermore, the mean values for final weight, daily gain, DM intake, feed efficiency, and Net energy for the group fed with the combination Silvafeed® ByPro + monensin were intermediate and not significantly distinct in comparison with the groups Silvafeed® ByPro and monensin.

Figure 2. Daily Weight Gain and FCR assessment in different experimental conditions.

The obtained results show that dietary supplementation with Silvafeed® ByPro plays an important role in beef cattle nutrition, providing a natural solution to improve growth performances and feed efficiency in a more potent manner than monensin alone (+16% for daily gain and -8% for FCR with Silvafeed® ByPro) or in combination (+8% for daily gain and -5% for FCR with Silvafeed® ByPro). Silvateam previously shed light on how tannins can modulate the rumen microbiota, which is an important mechanism to understand the performance advantages for beef cattle fed with Silvafeed® ByPro.


Blain M., Garrard A. Poppenga R., Chen B., Valento M. and Gittinger M. A., 2017. Survival after Severe Rhabdomyolysis Following Monensin Ingestion. Journal of Medical Toxicology, May 17.

Budriesi R., loan P., Micucci M., Micucci E., Limongelli V. and Chiarini A., 2010. Stop Fitan: Antispasmodic Effect of Natural Extract of Chestnut Wood in Guinea Pig Ileum and Proximal Colon Smooth Muscle. Journal of Medicinal Food. 13(5):1104-1110.

Hansen M., Krogh K. A., Björklund E. B, Brandt A. and Halling-Sørensen B., 2009. Environmental Risk Assessment of Ionophores. Trends in Analytical Chemistry 28(5):534-542.

Liu H. W., Zhou D. W., and Li K., 2013. Effects of Chestnut Tannins on Performance and Antioxidative Status of Transition Dairy Cows. Journal of Dairy Science 96:5901-5907.

Puschner B., Bautista A. C., Mckemie D. S., Gallego S. M., Woods L. W., Moore C. E. and Knych H. K., 2016. Serum, Milk, and Tissue Monensin Concentrations in Cattle with Adequate and Potentially Toxic Dietary Levels of Monensin: Pharmacokinetics and Diagnostic Interpretation. Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 39(4):363-72.

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